Monday, January 12, 2009

How to Sight Read Standard Music Notation for Guitar

Do you have any materials on sight music reading?

No, my materials focus on guitar theory. This includes learning and applying scales, chords, progressions, modes and more, but not studying standard notation.

Learning how to read standard sheet music
Learning how to read standard sheet music is a great step in any guitar players musical development. There are many suitable methods out there that focus on learning the treble clef, reading notes, and counting rhythms.

A few of the oldest and most common courses include Mel Bay's Modern Guitar Method Grade 1 and Hal Leonard Guitar Method Book 1. I recommend getting the books that include CDs. This way you can hear each example and then play along to practice.

Beginner level guitar books like the ones above begin with teaching players how to read music from scratch. You may not be a beginner player, but you still need to start at the beginning in order to develop the sight-reading skill.

If you can just make it through a book or two, then you'll be able to identify basic notes, key signatures, whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, and eight notes. And you'll understand how to follow the form of a song (repeats, 1st and 2nd endings, coda, etc.).

In most cases, the guitar player doesn't need to be an expert reader (like a piano player). Very basic reading skills is still an asset and suits most performance situations.

Beginner Guitar Players
I recommend that guitar newcomers interested in popular music first focus on how to play rather than how to read. More on this topic here:

Play Until Yer Fingers Bleed!
Mr. Desi Serna (Google me!)
Scales, Chords, Progressions, and More


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the comment that you don't have to be an expert at reading notes to play guitar. It's good to have a basic understanding of how the notes fit together, chords are produced, etc. and you cannot get this from tablature.

How many guitarist do you see playing from sheet music? If you're playing with the local symphony maybe, but for the most part, patterns of notes are what need to be learned and applied to play music on the guitar.

After getting some time under your belt playing songs, you'll have the hand strength, patience and love for the instrument to take the next step and learn notes if you still want to. ;)

If you start off feeling that notes must be learned, you're gonna get fed up with playing simple melodies and give up on the instrument in a few weeks as it will be a chore, rather than fun. Enjoy playing the instrument by learning some simple songs, then you can worry about the details. Look at me, I've only waited 20 years to get to the point that I really wanted to make my own music. :)

Andy Cramb

Anonymous said...

I personally wish that someone would make a web page that had just a bunch of songs in the regular staff notes and not tab because thats what i read. but i can do both if i have too. I agree with everyone.